Phoenix, Mean Fiddler, London

Prepare to riff from the ashes
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The Independent Culture

When we Brits think of dance-inflected Francopop, we think firstly of Daft Punk, secondly of Air, and for third place it's probably a skirmish between between Rinôçérôse, Etienne De Crécy and Cassius. Phoenix - a decade old, and sometime collaborators with half of that list - rarely get a look-in.

It's a decade which has taken them in the reverse direction to, say, Soulwax. Their early recordings featured house and electronica, but the quartet step onto the stage at London's Mean Fiddler without a keyboard or computer to be seen.

Four guys with shoulder-length Monkees hair, they are the Frenchest-looking Frenchmen in town, and they make an ambling sound reminiscent of Blur circa "Coffee And TV", Strokes circa "Someday", or Eighties janglers Prefab Sprout and The Bodines.

There's a pleasingly world-weary resignation to it, particularly when Thomas Mars (during "Courtesy Laughs") sings "I sold an ugly necklace uptown/Found out it was Egyptian..."

The night comes alive with the dancefloor anthem "If I Ever Feel Better", a younger cousin of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" which sees Deck D'Arcy earn his keep with its tricksy afrobeat bassline. When they follow it with "Funky Squaredance", rocked up to sound like Toto, it's hands in the air everywhere you look.

As the chinny lad from Heartbeat once almost sang, sometimes losers win.

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